- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Michael Jordan had his most productive night of the preseason last night, but it wasn't enough to lift the Washington Wizards past Jerry Stackhouse and the Detroit Pistons.
Stackhouse, who opened the exhibition season with 30 points in a victory over the Wizards, last night went for a game-high 36 points including 16-for-16 from the free-throw line to lift the Pistons to a 114-88 victory in front of 11,639 at Van Andel Arena. Jordan finished with 24 points but shot 7-for20 from the field in 32 minutes.
Beyond Stackhouse's explosion, Wizards coach Doug Collins bemoaned the Wizards' spotty defense, particularly in the fourth quarter when they were outscored 31-10.
"The one thing that I want our guys to do is compete," Collins said. "That's the most important thing to me. I thought we caved in tonight. You've got to give Detroit credit. They put it down on us and we just sort of caved in."
Stackhouse's explosion helped. Faced with a chance to play on the same court with Jordan again, Stackhouse, who hit 10-for-19 from the field, rose to the occasion before a sellout crowd.
"A game like this, when the greatest player in the history of the game is on the court, it's easy to get up," Stackhouse said. "It's not hard to play the game at all."
The Pistons, who shot 52 percent from the field, improved to 3-2. The Wizards, who face the New Jersey Nets tomorrow at MCI Center, fell to 1-2.
Following the game, Jordan said he felt fine playing extended minutes. He also said that his left foot, recently plagued by tendinitis, was fine following the game.
"Obviously I'm moving up the ladder," Jordan said, clearly happy that he had been able to test his foot in this manner. "I'm getting better. I'm seeing progress all the time."
Both Collins and Jordan agreed that the Wizards' youth hurts them defensively.
"That's a problem for us right now," Jordan said. "We're young, we're missing a good shot blocker in Brendan Haywood and right now Detroit's just further along than we are right now."
In his last outing, Jordan scorched the Miami Heat for 18 points in just 12 minutes, and he looked very much like the midair impresario that the basketball world hopes that it will see again this season.
But Jordan, shooting mostly jump shots out of the post, found the rim unkind early on. Playing the entire first quarter, Jordan was 2-for-7 from the floor in 12 minutes, scoring six points.
However, Jordan started to find a rhythm in the second quarter. When he checked back in the game, Jordan found himself guarded by Jon Barry. When the teams met last week in Detroit, both Barry and Corliss Williamson made disparaging comments about the 38-year-old Jordan looking slow and perhaps having lost a step.
Jordan instantly responded, popping a baseline jumper over Barry that barely ruffled the net. And even though his shot was not falling - Jordan was just 5-for-13 from the field in the first half his 5 for 6 free-throw shooting boosted his point total to 17 at halftime.
Stackhouse's 20 first half points helped Detroit to a 61-58 lead.
Jordan sat out the entire third quarter, and the Wizards trailed by just 83-78.
With the Wizards trailing Detroit 86-78, Jordan checked back into the game. But instead of the Wizards trimming the lead, the opposite happened. Jordan was whistled for his fifth foul not long after he entered the game, and the Pistons, with Stackhouse leading the way, extended their lead to 97-82 with a 14-6 run. The Pistons outscored the Wizards 31-10 in the fourth quarter.
Collins finally got his first look at free-agent point guard acquisition Tyronn Lue. Lue, who has been hampered by a bruised right quadriceps, was brought in by Collins not to be Whitney's backup but rather to push him for the starting point guard job. Lue started last night and scored seven points on 2-for-7 shooting, and handed out four assists. Richard Hamilton finished with 13 points.
The Wizards must find out in the five remaining exhibition games what type of productivity they will get from the thinned out ranks at center. Before tearing a ligament in his left thumb, Haywood had won the starting center job, displacing incumbent starter Jahidi White.
Etan Thomas, who started yesterday at center, is still raw after having sat all of last season with a toe injury. However, despite some defensive lapses, Thomas was active underneath and finished with an impressive eight points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in 23 minutes.
White spent much of the summer with his right foot in a cast due to an Achilles' injury. Before last night, White, who did not dress against Miami, had played just 11 minutes during the pre-season, partly due to the Achilles' injury and also due to nagging tendinitis in his left knee. Last night White finally got off the bench with 2:03 left in the third quarter, but his appearance was brief. White played five minutes, was held scoreless and picked up two fouls.

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